Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Those Who Wish to Sing Always Find a Song

As with many things in my life, my grandparents are/were a lesson in ironic polarity. On one side, immortal professional athletes that shriveled and aged into diabetic and demented fighters; they championed passionate, critical lives and tired everyone out til the end. When their minds started melting away, it gave me an excuse to ignore them. I'm a lot like them, which I'm sure pisses them off real good, because we never got along. The other pair of grandparents were a pair of sofa intellectuals, all puzzles, trivia, nightly bourbons and hilarious stories about exotic places with names full of vowels, like Ohio and Iowa. They were smart and happy, and at 96 or something my grandpa is still healthy, aware, and self-sufficient. I love that man.

Basically, because I'm lucky and mean, I've never had to care for an elderly relative.

Sue, the holistic saint over at Backdoor Logic, has devoted her love, sweat and blog to caring for her mother who suffers from Lewy Bodies Dementia. She is trying, trying, trying as hard as she can to prevent sending the little old lady to a nursing home. Her caregiving is punctuated by testing the correlations between her mother's fluctuating health and natural folk remedies, nutritional balance, meditation and exercise.

I really have very little knowledge about honest naturopathy. Sue is experienced with Reiki and straight-up hypnosis, she believes in the power of positive affirmations and she seeks out signs of cosmic plate-o'-shrimp synchronicity.

Early on in her blog, her writing is staccato and synthetic, like she's jotting down lines in a journal for the purpose of triggering her memory rather than telling a story. Eventually her writing improves and evolves, integrating stories of her mother with studies she reads and healing practices she uses and a whole bunch of recipes, but this otherwise compelling saga reads like a well-disguised fenugreek advertisement, or a conceited self-help book.

I fucking loathe self-help books. Useless propaganda and bullshit.

Sue is in the process of writing one.

She deals with everything so self-rationally, and with so much care and deliberation that I know she is an amazing person. She's hopeful and grateful and genuinely loves and wants the best for her family. But then shit gets repetitive, as if she's trying to convince us she's right by saying the same thing in as many ways possible. Perhaps she's trying to convince herself. Either way, if I have to read one more warning entry about gluten and blood pressure and hallucinations I am going to delete the internet with a bag of hammers. The whole fucking internet.

I prefer stories. See this? I love that this detail: her dad teaches her how to see auras, damn near explains how she got into all this alternative health business. She grew up with it. One line, one sentence unintentionally gives me so much background, and I love that. And Sue, she has these fun little writing tics. My tiny Italian grandmother, she speaka like this as well.

Like many people of extreme faith, Sue is a holistic health zealot, constantly reminding people to think for themselves and question authority. But when Sue gives examples of how her way is the best way, and everyone else needs to open their eyes because then they'll discover how right she is...when she trudges into that territory, it diminishes her credibility. Does this have something to do with why certain family members refuse to speak to her?

Then there are little things that make me question her process. For example, tomatoes and potatoes are not belladonnas/deadly nightshades. Their family taxonomy is not "belladonna." Belladonna and tomato are two species under different genera in the same biological family. That's like saying humans are orangutans. By exaggerating selective facts and implying things that I know are false, it makes me distrust Sue's judgment on other unfamiliar topics. She ridicules pharmacies for using a tactic that she uses on her readers.

I really love lots of things about Sue. She's individualistic and honest, she's got voice, she's sacrificing her sanity for that of her mother, she's got fucking guts. For that:

But her blog is a different story. I just can't deal with the preachy or boring updates or repetitive entries. I understand that your blog is about you helping yourself help others, I get that. If you didn't have your mother to focus on it would be someone else. How about instead of writing a new entry about the same thing, you just don't post that day? You're tapping out an entry a day and most of them are the same fucking thing. They're well-written and informative, but bland. Think before you publish. Oh, and get a template that doesn't look like it's been faded after being in the sun too long (stupid lighthouse).


  1. Thank you so much for the awesome advice and not telling me that my blog sucked out loud!

    I'll surely be changing things up when I stop chasing hallucinations.

    I loved this post mostly because I'm too intellectually lazy to spell check my comments or read more than one entry at a time.
    Now I'm afraid my blog is like sue's sans the holistic crap and replaced by the same repetitive negative message about gay men.
    Oh well.
    And I've watched Science channel shows about how people who take repeated blows to the head are far more likely to suffer from MS and other dimentia related illnesses due to large portions of their brain tissue dying after prolonged exposures to a build up of the toxins released when brain tissues swells up.

  3. Hello? Gallery of nuts? Anybody?

    Sue, your blog does not suck. And I am in awe of your dedication to your mom.

  4. Human isn't the same as orangutan? Please allow me to introduce a man named Harv.
    And that guy who was commenting on the Peter Parkour blog a few weeks ago. Oh, and that thing called my neighbor.

    Also, can anyone explain that comment from Cojent? Is it just me?

    P.S. xoxo Sue It ain't easy getting any love around this here hoopdie.

    P.S.S. How much did everyone miss me? I've been to LA and back without killing anyone - not even an orangutan.
    Praise & pumpkin muffins!

  5. Hi Cogent. I like turtles.

    A cursory reading of the blog in question simply exhausted me. I too am lucky and mean enough to not have had to take care of aged parents/grandparents, but I watched my father do it. In the end, for him and my grandmother, the right decision really was an assisted living facility. And yeah, she hated his ass for it, when she could remember who he was.

    But it was either that or her burning the house down because she forgot to turn off the stove (almost happened twice) or getting flattened by a semi on the road on which she lived, when she would get a-wandering (almost happened once).

    The decision nearly killed him to make.

    Other than that, not sure what else to say.

  6. I was definitely exhausting. But I was just so fascinated by Sue herself, if not her blog. I read the whole thing just because I wanted to find out more about her.

  7. And Cogent: Hot damn, I miss having the Science Channel.

    I love how your comment does not at all reflect your screen name.

  8. Sorry! Gallery arrived. Yeah. the lighthouse annoyed me. I looked at the posts about the dad's version of family history. Interesting but as Shiny once told me...take a breath and edit.

  9. I am guessing Cogent has popped up because he has submitted for review. That seems to be the way. Don't take that as me volunteering Shiner.

  10. I'm totally into that stuff.

    But I couldn't subscribe. I don't have the patience. And I'm selfish.

  11. "I do my best thinkin on the bus. That's how come I don't drive, see? The more you drive the less intelligent you are."

  12. You do a lot of acid, Rassles? Back in the hippy days?

  13. You know how everybody's into weirdness right now?

  14. UFO's and time machines and how the Mayans invented television?

  15. You know, there ain't no difference between a flyin saucer and a time machine.

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

  18. Sue, I wasn't dissing your methods. I was quoting Repo Man. Shiner referenced it in her review.

    Plate o' shrimp.

  19. Thanks for reading my point of view,I've been thinking about it for a couple of days.

    Shiner, thank you for reading my blog... I admit, it's raw.

    All comments are taken well. The point of my blog is to let folks walk in the shoes of a care giver. It's a trip in so many ways and on so many levels.


Grow a pair.